BANGOR — Nia Irving of Lawrence has long been recognized as the best player in the state. Now, it’s official.

Irving was named Miss Maine Basketball, the award presented annually to the top senior girls high school basketball player in the state.

Nick Gilpin of Hampden Academy is Irving’s equal on the boys side, winning Mr. Maine Basketball.

The winners were announced at the conclusion of the Maine Association of Basketball Coaches All-Star Banquet at the Anah Shrine Hall.

South Portland’s Maddie Hasson and York’s Rachel Todd were the other girls semifinalists.

“It’s incredible just to be named a finalist or a semifinalist for the award. To even win it is that much more incredible,” Irving said. “Both Maddie and Shannon are very deserving candidates, so it’s an honor to be chosen for it.”

A 6-foot-1 center, Irving averaged 25.6 points and 21.1 rebounds per game this season while shooting 57 percent from inside the arc. She led Lawrence to a 21-1 record and its second consecutive Class A state championship game.

The four-time Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference player of the year scored 1,761 points and grabbed 1,206 rebounds in her career for the Bulldogs, leading the league in scoring and rebounding all four years. Lawrence compiled a 73-10 record during her career, highlighted by a 35-game winning streak at Folsom Gym. As a junior, she returned from a serious knee injury to average 22.5 points and 14 rebounds per game and lead the Bulldogs to a 21-1 record and the Class A state title.

Irving is the first Lawrence player to win the award since Cindy Blodgett in 1994.

“I was really happy that I could bring a winning tradition back to Lawrence and help us do everything that we could to get to a state championship,” Irving said. “Winning it my junior year, just, what an incredible experience the whole time.”

Irving is a member of the National Honor Society at Lawrence and maintains a 100.7 weighted average. She has volunteered on behalf of a local homeless shelter, as a peer tutor and as a youth basketball coach.

The daughter of Harry and Lisa Irving, she signed a National Letter of Intent to play basketball on scholarship at Boston University in the fall. On Thursday, she received the Maine Gatorade Player of the Year Award for the second year in a row.

In accepting the award, Irving gave a special thanks to teammate and classmate Dominique Lewis. Lewis has not decided her future plans, and Saturday’s all-star game will be their last time on the court together representing Lawrence.

“It is definitely mixed emotions,” Irving said. “It’s sadness and happiness. We’re both going to be moving on to play at the next level, but sadness because I’m going to miss playing with her so much. We’ve been playing together since we were in, like, third grade. It’s just been great having her as a point guard, and like I said, I couldn’t have asked for a better one growing up.”

Gilpin, a 6-foot-3 guard, averaged 17.6 points, 7.4 assists, 7.2 rebounds and 3.6 steals as a senior, finishing his career with 1,093 career points. He led the Broncos to an 82-4 record and two state championships during his career.

Gilpin, whose older brother Zach was a finalist for the award two years ago, will continue his basketball career at Bates College.

“Ever since I was younger, my brother and I have been playing basketball in our driveway, and I think that a lot of my skills have come with him pushing me to get better,” he said. “Ever since Zach was a finalist for this award, it’s always something that I wanted to try and achieve.”

Nate Jewell, of Winthrop High School, and Meg Davis, of Brewer High School, were recipients of the Spirit of the Game Award. Jewell provided support and inspiration as the team manager for the boys basketball team. A senior with Down Syndrome, he played on Winthrop’s unified basketball team the past two years and also started the final home game of the season, sinking the game’s first shot, a 3-pointer.

Davis persevered through personal and family adversity. As a junior, she suffered a torn ACL three games into the season that required season-ending surgery. She worked her way back to action for her senior year and maintained a positive outlook after her brother, with whom she is a triplet, suffered a stroke and her family’s home was destroyed in a fire.

York girls coach received the Bob Brown Contributor Award and Bangor Daily News sportswriter Ernie Clark received the Media Award.

The banquet also honored regional all-stars from all five classes who will play in Saturday’s Maine McDonald’s MABC Senior All-Star Games, which start with the girls AA/A/B game at Newman Gymnasium on the campus of Husson University.

Randy Whitehouse — 621-5638

[email protected]

Twitter: @RAWmaterial33


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